The common misperception about fevers is that something is wrong. This couldn’t be further from the truth, for when the body decides to up the temperature it is not without good reason. Our bodies are absolutely genius when it comes to moving back towards balance and sometimes we need to kill some germs along the way—which only happens with an increase in temperature. However, having a fever isn’t always fun, so here are a few natural ways to support your body during a fever and help you get through it faster with less worry.
One of my top herbal helpers that I reach for in every case of a fever is ginger. It seems like ginger would be the opposite of what you need when you are already burning up (since it’s rather spicy), but that is exactly why ginger works. It actually supports the fever action of the body so it can reach its desired state of germ-fighting strength quicker, allowing the fever-break to come sooner.
I like to get into a hot bath and drink a tall, hot ginger tea to the point of sweating. Inspired by Dr. Christopher’s Cold Sheet Treatment, which I learned during herbal medicine school, the hot bath and hot ginger tea drive the body temperature up. When you feel like you can’t take it anymore (and of course before passing out—make sure someone is watching you), get out and take a cold (as cold as you can handle) shower. Then, wrap yourself up in warm clothes and socks and even a hat (ones you don’t care about sweating profusely in) and go to bed.
The hot bath drives up the body temperature, along with the ginger tea, and the cold shower then makes your body push the body heat out through the skin—and with it comes the infection. You will notice that you wake up in a sweat and that your fever is broken. This is one of the fastest ways to get through a fever as an adult.
Caution: young children or babies cannot take this approach.
In the case of young children or infants who are experiencing a high fever, wearing lapis lazuli gemstone or even having one nearby in the bed can help in getting the fever to break. It actually absorbs the heat from the body and assists the immune system in dealing with the invading organisms causing the fever. I have had lapis lazuli break a fever of 105 F in about an hour. That is not to say it will always work that fast, but it certainly can.
Tulsi (Holy Basil)
The Queen of Ayurvedic herbs—and thought to be the incarnation of Lord Vishnu in India—tulsi (holy basil) is known for its ability to bring down a fever and help the body to deal with the invading bacteria causing it. When experiencing a fever, it is recommended to drink between 3-6 glasses of tulsi tea and then get plenty of sleep. The fever should remedy itself by morning. Tulsi also supports the body’s immune system in balancing out which assists the entire body in finding homeostasis again.
Garlic & Onions On The Feet
Another simple yet potent remedy for a fever is to chop up either onions or garlic (or both!), mix them into some virgin olive oil, and apply it to the feet. The olive oil is an important component so as to avoid burning the feet with the potent oils from the garlic or onion. Another method is to oil the feet and then place slices of cut onion over the feet. In both cases, you then cover the oiled feet with clean socks (two pairs) and go to bed. The garlic or onion mixture will enter the bloodstream via the meridians on the soles of the feet and kill the infection. The body will then send out toxins through the feet, coloring the socks—so it is important to use clean (preferably white) socks.
Peppermint Essential Oil
Another favorite for supporting a fever condition is the use of peppermint essential oil. Usually applied to the temples and to the soles of the feet, peppermint has a cooling effect on the body which can help relieve a fever if it gets too high. If using on the skin it is advised to dilute in a base oil such as coconut, almond, olive, or apricot oil. You can also diffuse peppermint oil into the air as well as drink peppermint tea (not the oil) in copious amounts.
The Cooling Breath
Using the yogic pranayama known as Shitali (the cooling breath), you can help manage and even bring down a fever which is too high. To practice, simply bring your teeth together, rest the tip of the tongue behind the teeth and breathe in through the teeth. You will feel the cool air move into your mouth over the tongue. This breath has a cooling action on the entire body.
During a fever, it is not recommended to do the more heat-producing pranayamas such as kalpalbhati breathing or bastika pranayama, which are both fiery, quick breaths. These breathing practices could raise the fever temperatures in the body. Use only cooling breaths during a fever or those which help to balance the body and breath like Nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing).
Metaphysical Awareness Of Fevers
It can be helpful to look at the spiritual reasons why the fever was necessary in order to help it clear quicker. If you look at the function of a fever, or its expression, we see the “burning up” aspect and have to ask, “What am I burning up about inside?” It could be an anger issue, something unspoken burning up under the surface. It might be an emotion such as rage or grief that is simply unexpressed and the body simply cannot take it anymore. If you can acknowledge what the fever might be speaking to, it can allow the body to release the need to “burn” on a physical level.
It can also be helpful to look at the infection portion of the fever and ask “Is something really irritating me under the surface?” or “Do I feel infected by a certain belief or way of life?” or “Is there someone or something in my reality which I don’t feel I can live with or that causes me deep discomfort under the surface?” Do the inner work—while you have all that time in bed—and you may be surprised what the fever is trying to tell you. You can also just meditate on the words “What are you trying to tell me, fever?” Sometimes this is enough to invoke the answer into your consciousness.
The Fever Is Not Your Enemy
Whatever you choose to help support you and your family during a fever it is most important to remember that the fever is not your enemy—it is helping you. When approaching fever reduction ask yourself if the body is handling the fever okay? Do you (or your family member) just need support in dealing with the aches and pains? Is the temperature manageable? In most cases the fever will self-regulate if given the proper rest and nourishment. It is a good idea (if you feel up to it) to eat very nutritious foods or shakes during a fever. This will give the body the nutrients it needs to deal with the infection. It is best to avoid dairy and sugar or any processed foods during this time, as your body has enough to deal with without adding extra impediments towards healing.
By approaching a fever with a healthy attitude most folks can avoid any problems and even avoid doctor visits by remembering that your body is amazing and is just doing its job. Here’s to our health and supporting the body during fever season!